Can I set the scene for you?
The smell from the kitchen has become stronger.
Is anyone home?
Two bedroom doors welcome you as you walk into a small entry way. They are both closed. You open the first. Walking in you see a bedroom that has been abandoned. Clothing is everywhere. The bed is filled with clothing and blankets. Getting closer you see there is someone home. He is curled up and lost in sleep.
There is a heavy weight upon him and he cannot push it up to get up and away. He tries to rise but the weight is so great, it forces him down, back down, into the only thing he can do, sleep.
Exiting this bedroom, you wonder what could possibly be in the second room. Once more, entering quietly, you are in surprised by what you see. Soft pink walls, ballerina drawing, a metal canopy with pink and white ruffled linens and pillows, a huge teddy bear, books, and a shelf with dolls make you smile. Intrigued by a drawing on the tiny desk, you draw closer and stop with a blow to your chest.
There on the floor is a woman. Jeans, long T-shirt under a large flannel shirt cover her as she embraces a worn teddy bear. Her face is young but the lines and shadows tell the story of loss, pain, and sadness. She moves slowly, rocking back and forth, whispering a lullaby.
Catching your breath, you wonder if you should speak but you choose to walk out and away. As you walk away, the house disappears and you are in a white field filled with towering trees and wide stones with carvings on them. How did you get here? Soon, you realize you are in a cemetery. Three feet ahead, you spot them. The man and the woman you had just visited are here. The man is kneeling on the snowy ground with his unbearably heavy arms on a tombstone. The woman has surrendered her body to the ground. She doesn't want to leave.
"How can I leave her here alone in the cold?" she cries. "Why did God do this?"
The sound of waves coming over and over again fill your surroundings and you look around to see what it could be. There is no rain, no storm, only a powerful sound coming with the wind. Suddenly, you look up and the sight is so powerful, you fall to your knees and stare upwards. Multitudes of angels are falling upon the precious white snow and walking around the couple by the grave site.
Angels begin to circle around them and pour out a sound, as if crying, but at the same time, pouring strength and warmth upon the parents who have lost their child during the holidays. God is sending help. Angels have come to minister. Unseen arms embrace the woman and the man. Fingers of light wipe their tears and stand with them.
Suddenly, windows open with scenes of people on their knees or on a chair, praying for these two people and asking God to send angels to help them. Then, your ears become deaf to every sound and you hear them. "God, why have you crushed us this way?" "Lord, I don't want any more phone calls telling me it will get better with time!" "Why didn't you take me, God?" "Why does the church keep calling to ask if there's anything I need? Why do they keep asking if I'm alright? Why don't they leave me alone!" You hear their anger, their pain, their faith against the wall, but most of all, their loneliness.
Many times, during the holidays or special times in our lives, we never plan for death to be part of those moments. Unexpectedly or without surprise, Death arrives and steals from us that which is more precious than gold, the life of our loved one. It's in this moment you don't need the world to come to your rescue with empty questions or crude comments meant to make you feel better. You want to be alone.
The Church, Family and Friends should:
Sit beside the person in grief.
Quietly. Comforting. Praying.
Being the hands and feet of our Lord.
Asking the Lord, "Show me what to do. Show me what this person needs."
(Not another casserole. I assure you.)
No one teaches us what to do or say when death comes.
Lord, you know my friend who has lost their child just a few days ago. You know their pain and their anguish. Show me how to stand with them silently and pray inside powerfully. Dispatch angels to surround them every second of the day. In your timing, awaken them to see their lives are worth living and holding on to.
Help me be your hands and feet. I can wash the dishes and do the laundry. I can clean their home. I can silence the annoying phone calls by asking people to consider being your hands and feet with me. You are the healer. I know that people blame you. I would, too. Many times I have. I know that sickness comes full force sometimes and shows no mercy. Age is no exception. I have questions, too. Yet, I choose to believe that there is always a reason for our pain. You get no pleasure or joy in our pain. The world says you do.
I don't know if the tree should stay up, if the presents should be put away, or if I should attempt to make the beds, but take over, Lord. Show us, as your body and your people, what to do when our friends or family go through the path of death.
In Jesus name, Amen
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